'I need to get my head straight' - Johnson
Mitchell Johnson will aim to straighten out the kinks in both his head and action after being dropped from the Test team for the first time - but he will do it without leaving the squad. Johnson, 29, is staying in the Australian camp despite being the only man cut from the 13-man outfit for Friday's second Ashes Test.
At a sombre press conference that felt more like Johnson had suffered a career-ending injury than a dip in form, he vowed to fight his way back. "It's not the end of the world," he said, sitting below an honour board on which his 5 for 103 against West Indies last year was the latest bowling entry. "I've come back from stress fractures when I was younger, with Queensland."
Johnson, who went wicketless in Brisbane, said he was looking forward to getting away from the hype of the Ashes to start the rebuilding, but he will remain on the fringes as he is counselled by Nielsen and Troy Cooley, the bowling coach. After being the attack leader for the past two years, Johnson will watch as Peter Siddle and two of Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris start in Adelaide.
"In the last game I was trying to do all that work [on my action] during a game, which is obviously very hard to do," he said. "In the end, I need to work things out, go to net sessions, get back in the gym, get my head straight, and get back into the team."
It has taken 39 Tests for Johnson to miss his first game due to form or injury, but Ricky Ponting expects him to rediscover his often magical tough. "Mitch came into the side as a youngish guy as far as cricket is concerned," Ponting said. "He's had his ups and downs on and off the field. I've seen him get the better of a lot of things he has had to face the past few years. His record speaks for itself so I am sure we will see him back with the baggy green cap on pretty soon."
Johnson has 166 Test wickets at 30.08 and while he has starred against high-quality teams such as South Africa, he has flopped in his two campaigns against England. The troubles leading to this point began at Lord's last year, but he has been unable to sustain any improvements to his slingy action.
The coach Tim Nielsen said it was important for Johnson to fix his problems away from the middle, and hoped the revamped version would be shining in time for the third Test on December 16. "We're going to take the opportunity now to give him a spell and relax so he can hit the ground running and be as ready as he can be for Perth," Nielsen said. "We'll use every resource we can to ensure that he's ready to go for that game."
Johnson, who felt he was handling the demotion well, knew that he didn't perform when it mattered in Brisbane. "I'm a strike bowler for Australia and I need to get wickets," he said. "In the back of your head, you're sort of thinking [you might be dropped], but I think I've handled it pretty well."
In helping Johnson, Ponting talked out the times he was dropped. "There aren't many guys in the 11 who haven't experienced similar feelings that Mitch is feeling at the moment," Ponting said. "He's obviously disappointed, but we'll let him get over his disappointment and work with him to get him back to his best."
Johnson believes the episode will make him stronger. He has spoken about his axing with Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, Nielsen, Ponting and the coaching staff. What he does next is up to him.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo